Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Slash Dot Dash talks Wicker & Steel with Perc

We recently covered the first remix release by Perc, 'My Head Is Slowly Exploding' from his forthcoming debut album 'Wicker & Steel' on his own label Perc Trax. Here at Slash Dot Dash we loved it so much that we tracked down Ali Wells, aka Perc, for a chat about making the album and what the future holds for himself and the label.

You’ve been all over the world of late. What have you been doing and have there been any particular highlights?

It's just been a mixture of dj sets and live sets in all sorts of places, all across Europe, the USA and Canada and now I have Japan coming up in June. Sometimes it is a Perc Trax event, other times I am playing for CLR or Stroboscopic Artefacts or just booked with a selection of previously unconnected artists. Recent highlights have been the Grounded Theory party in Berlin with Milton Bradley and Adam X, I really felt at home and at ease there. The CLR party at Butan (near Dusseldorf) was great as the system was tweaked to perfection for that big CLR sound. Closer to home my first gig at fabric and my recent gigs at Corsica Studios have both shown me that London still loves it's techno.

You’ve been working on your debut album at the same time. Have you found it difficult to remain focused with all the travelling you’ve been doing?

I think my travelling provided a break from the production of the album and gave me a chance to step back from the production process and take a look at how the album was shaping up. Plus I could road-test a few tracks in clubs, playing 'My Head Is Slowly Exploding' in my live set at Berghain proved to me that I was going in the right direction with the album. I like the balance between the isolation of studio work and the social side of travelling, playing gigs and meeting new people. It did not cross my mind once to take a month off at any point to lock myself away and lose myself in the album. That much time working solidly in the studio would drive me mental.

How has your work process differed in making the album to making an EP?

I had the title and a rough idea for the vibe of the album early on and then I just tried to make tracks that locked into my vision of the album. I worked in pretty much the same way as I would work on an EP, with the difference being that I was trying to make tracks that fitted to a common theme. When I am making tracks normally I work on a few different sounds at once as the tracks may well end up as part of different releases on different labels. I guess the album format gave me more space to experiment and it was good to work on whatever I wanted to without thinking which label may take it or how it would fit on a regular 3 or 4 track EP.

You’ve been releasing music for 9 years now in the forms of EP and remixes. What made you decide that this was the time to make an album?

I don't know really. I've had the album idea in my head for about 2 years now but I was waiting for the right track or moment in time to kick things off. 'My Head Is Slowly Exploding' was the first track that I knew had to go on the album and that really marked the start of the creation of the album. There were a few other releases last year that made me more confident of being able to produce a cohesive album. Firstly the Vertigo I and II EPs on Perc Trax saw me branching out to make tracks which worked on the dancefloor but were not straight up dj/club tools. Secondly my Monad V release on Stroboscopic Artefacts managed to mix together 4 different sounds whilst maintaining a cohesive theme (I hope!) and the reaction to that and Lucy's faith in me gave me more confidence for 'Wicker & Steel'.

With the Sawf album earlier this year, yours about to drop and a forthcoming album from Forward Strategy Group, is this a deliberate change of direction for the label or did it just happen organically?

Not really. It was about time for Perc Trax to do albums and it just felt right to start this now. The label compilation CD and the mix CD are both dying formats and I've always like the artist album as milestone in a producer's career. Ben Gibson's album was actually the first on Perc Trax and each album project has been a continual learning process. With each album I have learnt more about the promotional campaign that goes with an album and I am sure I still have a lot to learn. Ben's was Perc Trax's first album, Sawf's was the label's first CD release, mine has had the greatest promotional push and the label's first commissioned videos. I'm not sure what new ground I'll break for the Forward Strategy Group album but we are already working on a few ideas to make the album special.

What’s been the most important thing to you that’s helped you get through this process?

I think it has just been the way the support for Perc Trax has grown in the last few years. I'd much rather hear someone say how much they love Perc Trax than how much they like my latest track or remix. The way that the label has seemed to become more focussed whilst actually expanding its sound to take in techno, industrial, dubstep and broken beat influences has really pushed me forward and given me more confidence. People seem to 'get' Perc Trax more than ever before and knowing people have a faith and an interest in the label helped immensely with my album and has also made me bolder in terms of the projects that I am planning for the rest of 2011.

And finally what does the next 6 months hold for Perc and Perc Trax?

Lots, maybe too much. After my album there is a Samuli Kemppi EP with a remix from Donor/Truss, then there is the first full EP from the label's new UK signing Dead Sound & Videohead After that expect the 2nd remix EP's from Sawf's album and 'Wicker & Steel'. All the remixers on these album remix EPs are new to Perc Trax which helps keep the label fresh without detracting from the label's core group of artists. Also coming at some point are new EP's from Donor/Truss, the Forward Strategy Group album and one new artist to Perc Trax, who is already quite established and might surprise a few people. In terms of label events there is the London launch party for my album on 11th June and a Tokyo launch party on 24th June, plus some American dates to be announced soon.

The London Launch party will be held in a secret East London location. Tickets and info are available on the Resident Advisor Event Page. More info on Perc and Perc Trax can be found on the Facebook Fan Page

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